Microsoft used Social Media Week to launch a new advertising platform aimed at incorporating user reviews and comments into social media sites.
The company said People Powered Stories will be the first of several social advertising products Microsoft plans to launch in the coming months. The product's release comes at a time when there is growing evidence that people are more likely to purchase a product recommended by a friend, while simultaneously showing a reluctance to purchase products directly marketed through social networks.
The announcement did not, however, make clear how exactly Microsoft will differentiate itself from similar services, outside of culling ratings posted on sites by Microsoft users. A pilot program targeted Windows 7 advertising at back-to-school shoppers, with Microsoft claiming PPS increased purchase intent by 6.3%, as well as helping boost "believability" and brand awareness.
In a blog post and at a presentation in New York, Jenn Creegan, GM for Display Advertising Experiences at Microsoft Advertising, said the company was partnering with Bazaarvoice to offer People Powered Stories. The platform will allow advertisers to "tap into Microsoft's highly social and engaged audiences across multiple screens and deliver relevant ads in a way that is targeted and more measurable than is available for social advertising on the web today."
The announcement was coupled with the release of a study Microsoft commissioned of 713 social media marketers.
According to Creegan's blog post:
- The top two reasons advertisers invest in social media is to drive word of mouth and brand awareness (27% and 26% respectively).
- 72% of advertisers said measuring ROI on social media campaigns is too difficult.
- Advertisers believe 65% of word of mouth misses the intended audience.
- 73% of those advertisers surveyed said they want to make sure the ratings and reviews they curate online reach their target audience (which is more than likes, tweets or any other sources the survey asked about).
"While we are still in the early stages of unlocking the potential of social advertising, I am confident that we are moving into a world where the impact of social advertising will move beyond a 'like' to a world where you can create and measure the value of social ads," Creegan said. "We believe that the People Powered Stories ad format is critical to continuing this movement and helping brands gain credibility and relevance with their target consumers."